Book: Matterhorn: Portrait of a Mountain

_MATTERHORN - Portrait of a Mountain by Nenad Saljic - COVER 30X30
Similar to Japanese woodcut artist Katsushika Hokusai’s 36 views of Mount Fuji, here Croatian photographer Nenad Šaljić focuses on capturing the essence of the almost perfectly shaped pyramid peak that is the Matterhorn. Alongside his 43 black & white pictures, Šaljić includes historic moments related to the mountain.

By Anna Bonita Evans
Outdoor Photography (UK), 197, Out There
September 2015

Book: Matterhorn: Portrait of a Mountain

THERE are some images that can only be captured by someone with a personal, and borderline spiritual, understanding of a location. Swiss photographer Nenad Saljic’s new book contains perhaps one of the best recent examples of this. Within its pages there are a variety of ‘portraits’ of a single location: Switzerland’s famous (and at times infamous) Alpine mountain, the Matterhorn. Nenad trained as a mountaineer and caver in his youth, and it was these experiences that caused him to fall deeply in love with, as he terms it, ‘nature’s most ancient textures, forms and shapes’. In this volume we find a visual document of Nenad’s love affair with the Matterhorn. Each image shows the vast formation under a variety of weather conditions – mist, storm, sun and rain. A pure overwhelming beauty suffuses every image. Matterhorn is an incredible and perfect encapsulation of the sublime. ★★★★★

By Oliver Atwell
The latest and best books from the world of photography
July 18, 2015

The Landscape Photography of Nenad Saljic

… In order to understand the significance of the award-wining series of works by Nenad Saljic, in both an international as well as local context, we need to delve deeper into the history of photography itself, and landscape photography in particular, as its own autonomous genre. Landscape photography, which is at the center of the author’s work, stands out among other genres in photography precisely because it does not capture a moment in time or the fleeting nature of objects, which is characteristic of the medium as a whole, particularly for journalistic or life photography. Landscape photography, in complete contrast to those genres, doesn’t capture a moment, but rather the persistence and stability of a geological timeframe, which routinely transcends time for both the observer, and the photographer. It is by virtue of their convergence that many questions arise, which also transcend the common themes of photography, and introduce wholly new concepts for perception and analysis, the psychological and metaphysical concepts in defining time, and the concept of lasting and temporality. This is also true of the geocosmic time present in the photographs of Nenad Saljic, which routinely showcases not only stars or massive rock formations, but also temporal weather conditions.

Landscapes such as this, once photographed, have an almost therapeutic effect upon the observer. For those of us who’ve not physically scaled mountains, particularly not at night, these photographs offer the opportunity of photographically facilitated meditation in nature, at a somewhat lesser, and thus less intimidating, scale, as well as an experience devoid of the physical and climatic hardships that the author might have encountered.

… Namely, landscape photography doesn’t portray just the landscape itself; rather, as can be seen in Saljic’s work, it also includes the complex relationship between author and object. The author faces objects of remarkable longevity, as would an observer, which allows him to reevaluate his own importance and temporality. The impact of such emotions is often visible on the photographs themselves, and we encounter melancholic and dour, calming, terrifying or even enticing landscapes. These landscapes clearly appear as subjects in their momentary interaction with the photographer, i.e. the observer. The author faces them alone, in evident silence, often at night… seemingly without fear.

… Judging from the photographs of Nenad Saljic, who follows the ways of past photographers by going on expeditions to far and foreign mountain spaces, in which he mostly works at night, in a world of ecocataclysm, the relationship between man and landscape remains, in a way, an unchangeable form of communication, a place of contemplation and communication. The poetic and mystical, far and frightening, changing and simultaneously lasting mountain massifs in these photographs communicate precisely that warning which they communicated several hundred years ago, of the transient nature of man, while simultaneously being critical of civilization itself, which, while not portrayed in the photographs themselves, becomes a background motif for them.

Ana Peraica, Ph. D.
Fotografija, No 60-61, 2014, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Book: Birth of a Ship, Nenad Saljic

Birth of Ship cover by Nenad Saljic
Photographer Nenad Saljic’s book Birth of a Ship begins like a traditional fairy-tale; a piece of poetic prose sets the scene. We learn that in a feat that feels akin to a production of Noah’s Ark, an idea of a building a boat was formed and the bones of it began to take shape soon after. Documenting the developing construction, the images that form Birth of a Ship are interweaved with geometric curved line across white pages, with poetry. This poetry is written by Miki Bratanic; these nautical nuances placed between the pages lend further spirit to the photographs.

It is a deviation from the work we are used to associating with Nenad; stunning landscapes of peaked cliffs, caves and expansive skies; but his interest in texture and natural fibre is nonetheless prevalent within these images. Namely, his ability to create high-contrast black and white photographs with high definition and detail has developed to become a signature aesthetic. The grain of the material; the wood, the metal surrounding hanger – are felt through this keenly represented texture.

But this is a book far from a project one would normally label documentary; I am hesitant to describe the images even as still lives; this is too immobile a term. The book feels as melodic as much as it is visual, the emanated waves not seen in watery form but within the lines weaving through the pages; a repeated motif of rising and falling mark-making. As I proceed through the pages it is the viewer that brings life to the shell of the ship.

The very visual and sensual curves are as intimidating as they are impressive; as the symmetrical ribs reach around the space they are in I am reminded of a breath, but also an enclosure; a trap of sorts. The vessel of a ship is powerful; but inherently vulnerable to its surroundings. Function, too, is thwarted; what use is this ship in its protective hanger? Stuck in its womb, as it were, it is inanimate; non-functional. Nonetheless, we that fill in the unseen the gaps of workmanship and see it progress, following the physical clues of construction.

As it grows, our ship becomes akin to a body and I am able to detect the human attributes within the book’s narrative. A ship is built to sail; to explore, to transport. Alternating between periods of calm and turbulence, the ship can provide parallels metaphorically and philosophically that illustrate our own experience. I feel myself yearning to reach out into this ship, caring about it. I am left with a feeling of accomplishment and its visual architecture impresses upon me. Birth of a Ship represents something as soft and subtle as an idea, but the true significance lies in the fact this idea has made into something that exists; something very tangible and real. I only hope when the ship meets the water, it is a voyage that befits its dedicated craftsmanship and magnificence.

By the end of book, I feel both the promise of adventure and the effects of nostalgia; a combination that feels both new and encompassing. The last words come from the boat-builder Igor (Gugo) Ilic who neatly sums up the spirit of the builder, as well as the sailor: “Once you start, there is no going back.”

Eighteen39 by Dawn Schuck
In Photo Features

2013 Sony World Photography Awards

A Portrait of the Matterhorn

© Nenad Saljic, 1st Place, Landscape, 2013 Sony World Photography Awards


I have a long affiliation and appreciation of this statuesque mountain but this image, indeed the whole series (A Portrait of the Matterhorn) by Nenad Saljic, is masterful in showing this beautiful colossus with its own personality and moods. The photographs are exquisitely shot and remind one of the works of the American photographer Ansel Adams, the father of black and white environmental photography.

Honorary Judge Francesca Sears on her favorite images
2013 Sony World Photography Awards